While perusing the used trade paperback section of my local comic shop Big B Comics I snatched up Machine Man by Tom DeFalco, Herb Trimpe and Barry Windsor-Smith. This gem from 1988 collects the 1984 four issue mini series.
I couldn’t locate a publisher’s blurb like I normally add so I’ll go it alone. It’s 2020 and the world is dominated by robots, created by the richest corporation in the world Baintronics. Those who live below the corporate radar work their own robot magic from discarded parts. These “midnight wreckers” scavenge for parts in Baintronics junk yards and one group comes across Machine Man and reassembles him. We learn Baintronics based their robot empire on technology stolen from Machine Man and they’re bent on his destruction. Machine Man befriends the group of midnight wreckers and eventually takes his fight to the man.
Reading this 26 years after is was originally published in pamphlet form it’s a way off look into the future. DeFalco spins a world that follows a spin of the classic future where a corporation rules the world and does what it wants with impunity. Or so it seems since we see a police presence in the last pages of the book. The midnight wreckers remind me heavily of Kirby’s outsiders when he started the Fourth World saga at DC; they have a groovy new language that sounds full of technological jargon and operate outside of conventional society.
Characters don’t do a lot of developing in the book’s 96 pages, and the dialogue is nothing special. There are some oddball characters doing strange things that must make sense in 2020.
Art is fantastic if you’re a fan of Barry Windsor-Smith. He handled finishes and colours for issues one to three and everything on issue four. Herb Trimpe did break breakdowns and they must have been pretty rough since the entire series has the Windsor-Smith style going on. In issue four we can see a subtle change in the lines of the characters and the backgrounds. I’m a huge fan and that’s the whole point I picked this up.
Machine Man is an interesting series, especially when we have the advantage of looking back and forward in time. Windsor-Smith had developed his signature style and was starting to make more of a mark in the industry; if you’re a fan pick this up.